An excellent job

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2008

By Staff
The East Carolina University football faithful are full of pride and grinning from ear to ear, as they should. The Pirates, with their 27-24 win over Tulsa on Saturday, have won a conference title in football for the first time in 32 years.
Of course, East Carolina was an independent for many of those 32 years. Still, Saturday’s victory is a significant accomplishment for East Carolina.
Much of the credit for the ECU football program’s successes in recent years must go to head coach Skip Holtz. He has turned around a program that was left in a shambles by John Thompson, Holtz’s predecessor at East Carolina. Athletics Director Terry Holland deserves credit from going after and bringing Holtz to East Carolina.
But neither Holtz nor Holland play on the field. So, credit the East Carolina players for their dedication, tenacity and desire to improving the football program. Their hard work has paid off with a conference title and a trip to the Liberty Bowl to face Kentucky, a 6-6 team, out of the Southeastern Conference. The Jan. 2, 2009, game in Memphis will be the 50th Liberty Bowl.
A win over an SEC team, even if it is a .500 team, would be an impressive accomplishment for the Pirates.
With the success he has had at East Carolina, Holtz finds himself being eyed by other universities that want to improve their football programs. In the game of college football, that’s to be expected. That is what East Carolina wanted to do when it hired Holtz. The decision to bring Holtz to Greenville was a wise one.
With East Carolina’s back-to-back wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia, both ranked teams at the time, at the beginning of the season added to its win over Tulsa, Holtz’s stock as a successful football coach rose as fast as the stock market plummeted this fall.
It is not a surprise other schools are wooing Holtz, especially Syracuse University.
As of Monday afternoon, the Syracuse-Holtz situation was unclear. On Saturday, the NFL Network reported that Syracuse was going to name Holtz its new head football coach Monday. On Sunday, The New York Times’ sports blog was reporting that Lou Holtz, father of Skip Holtz, said in a telephone interview his son had not accepted the head coaching job at Syracuse. In its Monday edition, the News &Observer of Raleigh reported Holtz was expected to meet with Daryl Gross, athletics director at Syracuse, either Monday or today.
By the time today’s Washington Daily News hits the streets, it is possible Syracuse may have persuaded Holtz to jump the Pirates’ ship and head north. It is not a question of if Holtz will leave East Carolina. It is a question of when he will leave.
Holtz can do better than Syracuse which is 6-25 in its last 31 games. Arguably, some people would consider the move from East Carolina to Syracuse a step up because Syracuse is in a BCS conference. By exercising a little patience and waiting another year or so, there is a good possibility Holtz could become the head football coach at a university such as Notre Dame, where he once played and coached under his famous father.
East Carolina must do what it can to keep Holtz for as long as possible. There will come a day when Holtz leaves the Greenville campus.
For the Pirates’ football program, the longer it takes for that to happen, the better for the program.
Skip, as Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs sing, “stay just a little bit longer.”
Go Pirates!